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I felt so prepared——and then…

When the interview turns “negative.”

You feel prepared for the interview. You are confident walking through the door to meet your interviewer. You have your positive experiences and stories ready to answer questions.

The interview is going along smoothly when all of a sudden the interviewer starts throwing “curve balls.” The interviewer begins by asking for examples of negative situations – times when you failed or had problems coping with work.

You are not prepared to talk about your failures, or times when you were challenged by difficult situations. You become flustered and you lose your confidence. You also lose the opportunity to get a second interview – or an offer.

Most interviewers aren’t attempting to be cruel when they ask for negative information – they are trying to find out if there are any “skeletons” in your closet – what problems you may have from past experiences.

So what do you do when you encounter those “curve balls?” You deal with them in a positive manner.

The interviewer began asking for examples of negative situations. He asked for several examples of when she had failed or had problems coping with work. She wasn’t prepared to talk about her failures or times when she was challenged by difficult situations. She became flustered and lost her confidence. She also lost her opportunity to get a second interview or an offer.

Most interviewers aren’t attempting to be cruel when they ask for negative information they are trying to find out if there are any “skeletons” in your closet – so to speak.

There may be a problem situation in the department and the interviewer wants to make sure that he isn’t going to add fuel to an already difficult environment by hiring the person that has problems with her own to deal with.

For instance, if the interviewer asks about your ability to get along with others, you may conclude that there have been problems in the past with someone not getting along with others.


Who wants to think – let alone talk – about his or her weaknesses?
Especially, if you are sitting with a stranger, who is considering hiring you for the desired job.

It’s a good exercise to admit to yourself (it’s up to you if you want to share or not) that there are some areas that you are working on to improve.

Some of the exercises to discover or admit your weakness are the same as discovering your strengths.

  • Get out those Performance Appraisals. Room for improvement suggestions?
  • Take an inventory of where you messed up in the past year. Have you given some thought to how you could have done a better job or handled a situation better?
  • Where could you have been more persuasive, patient, or even complimentary to your coworkers – or even family members?
  • When did you last lose it? Lost control over something that was bothering you – or someone who is bothering you. Face it, you more than likely feel lousy after such encounters.

The idea is to think of ways to improve YOU – your temperament, personality, or habits.

I will admit that I have to work on time management. It causes me problems in both my personal life and professional life.

I made a list of all the reasons that I don’t handle my time efficiently. Some of the reasons are that I have “magical thinking.” I think I can do everything – perfectly – and still be on time. The cause of many of my problems – is lack of planning.

I have written myself a list of tasks to work on to improve my behavior/problem. Because I like to write (my strength) – I put in a lot of effort writing down exactly how I feel and what I can do to improve my problem.

What is your problem?

What are you doing to acknowledge that problem – to yourself first?
Are you willing to make a list or use some type of reminder to yourself that your problem is surfacing again? I am sure that if you looked that there is some type of app out there to assist you.

Like “New Year’s Resolutions,” these tasks to improve yourself and your problem can get swept under the carpet if you don’t stay with it.

Give yourself a check-in to see how you’re doing. How many times did you “fall off of the wagon?” Are you reverting back to old behavior or patterns?

This is a contract between you and you – it’s up to you if you want to improve or stay the same “old you.”


“What is your greatest weakness?”

The most dreaded question of all.

You don’t want to appear above reproach, “I have no weaknesses,” but you also don’t want to appear like you can’t perform the duties of the job, “I have to admit I have a problem meeting deadlines.”


Handle this question by minimizing the weakness and emphasizing the strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits:

There is a formula for difficult questions called the Sandwich Technique.
() Begin with a positive statement
(-) Slip in the negative (or weakness)
) End with a positive statement

“My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As Customer Service Manager at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative personnel environment, due to a merger, and develop a very supportive team. As far as weaknesses, I am constantly trying to improve my management skills.

I feel I am a good manager, but working with employees is always a challenge, and I continue to learn new things about people every day. I also take courses to better my understanding of bringing harmony to the workplace.”

Need more help? Hire an Interview Coach to help you fly through your interviews with confidence and walk out with the job. interviewcoach.com